Originally published in Morning Star News
Gong Shengliang, imprisoned in China since 2001 for his leadership of a large house church movement, is suffering from lack of medical treatment after suffering a stroke, according to his daughter.
In an open letter to Chinese President Xi Jinping published on the Websites of China Ministries International and China Aid Association, Gong Huali states that her father suffered a “cerebral infarction” (ischemic stroke) late last year that has rendered him unable to walk or speak.
“Because the complete absence of minimal medical care, his cerebral and cerebellum functions have been severely affected,” she wrote. “His life is in serious danger.”
The daughter of the former leader of the South China Church (SCC) movement, which reached 50,000 members before China banned it, wrote in the April 23 letter that she has asked officials in Hubei Province for him to be released on bail for urgent medical treatment.
“But, again and again, our petitions were completely ignored, without any reasonable response,” she writes. “It is very urgent for my father to have immediate medical treatment, otherwise he might die soon in the prison or remain disabled for life.”
Gong and 16 other Christians from the unregistered house church movement were arrested in August 2001, charged with leading an illegal “cult” and sentenced to death. International protests led to withdrawal of the death sentences and a new trial in October 2002. He was then sentenced to life for rape after police tortured female members of his church into testifying that he had raped them, according to the women’s later testimony.
“My father was arrested because of his faith in Jesus Christ by the Hubei government in 2001, and was charged with rape,” Gong Huali wrote. “Incredibly enough, the so-called ‘victim’ was also arrested, tortured, and sentenced to jail with harsh penalty.”
Pastor Gong was severely tortured after his arrest, and in prison he was located in a damp area the first two years, where he suffered from rheumatism and gastroenteritis, his daughter wrote.
“Once his gastroenteritis caused him unable to eat for two weeks, and he found blood in stools and in urines,” she wrote. “The prison officials were very cruel to him, never giving him any medical care for these last 10 years and more.”
Chinese officials denied that Pastor Gong was tortured when Amnesty International issued an appeal for him in June 2003, after his family learned that he had been tortured so badly in Jingzhou prison that he was unable to leave his bed for two weeks.
China Ministries International is an international mission organization dedicated to proclaiming Christ among Chinese people and strengthening the country’s church.